I've been playing with this post in my head for a number of days now. I wanted to talk about the craziness of the #EduBros phenomenon, but wanted to stay away from sounding arrogant, obnoxious and all of those other things I do not like in people on Twitter or Blogs. After talking with some friends that I respect greatly, I decided I could do this post in a way that doesn't come off TOO obnoxious and that is what I'm aiming for. Bare with me and enjoy the ride.
Feel free to skip down if you know the origin story.
In preparation for #ISTE11 in Philadelphia, my buddy Tim (@Tgwynn) and I thought it would be cool to host a trivia based pub crawl after the opening Keynote. We thought it would be a fun way to relax before a few days of intense learning. We sent out some invites, created some Foursquare checkins and had a great time. It was well attended and people wanted to know what we were going to do next. Tim and I put the word out and we were able to organize a party on Sunday before #ISTE12.
As we got closer to #ISTE12, I thought it would be fun to invite Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson) to the event. I sent him a couple of tweets each day that were RTd by friends, but I never thought it would be a big deal. Then, this happened:
Tim and I were shocked! We could not believe that he had actually taken the time to tweet us back. We decided it would be polite to thank him and knight him an honorary #EduBro. Then this happened:
This was our reaction:
We were beyond geeked and our Twitter feeds had blown up over the mentions. We giggled and talked about how powerful Social Media can be if a couple of guys could get the attention of Sir Ken Robinson. We figured the whole thing was done and over with and got to planning the last bits of the party.
We did not go into the Keynote room because we figured we would need to ditch early to get the party going. Then, this happened,
Skip ahead to the 33:40 for the shout out.
Followed by this,
This is the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened. This is the ultimate in silliness.
Here is why it is not a big deal:
I'm not a better teacher for it. It is an awesome story that few friends will think is awesome, but nobody, and I mean nobody, in my district will even bat an eyelash at it. Why should they though? Will it create a better learning environment for my students? I'm guessing that it will not. The fact the Sir Ken Robinson gave me a shout it is neat, but has nothing to do with who I am as a classroom teacher and that is what is most important.
I'm not a big deal on Twitter because of this either. I'm still the same nerd that talks way too much in social situations and makes too many obscure references to thinks I (or Tim) only think are funny. I'm no more of an expert on all things education and technology related because Sir Ken sent a couple of tweets and mention me in the Opening Keynote. I actually wasn't even mention by name at all. If you listen closely, it sounds more like "EduBras" than EduBros.
I still have tons of work to do when it comes to being a better teacher and while this was a cool event and story I will share for all time, it doesn't make me a better educator which is why I attend ISTE in the first place.
Here is why the #EduBros are a big deal:
Two random people became friends and maintain that friendship using social media to connect and keep in touch. We see each other twice a year for a total of two weeks max, but act as if we have seen each other the other day. This is true for a large group of us and will remain true for some time.
We have managed to leverage social media to throw two parties during an international conference and no cost to us. While most vendors struggle to throw great parties and get people to attend, we took Sunday night to ourselves and brought over 200 people to party. This would not have been possible without the use of social media.
We started a small Meme at #ISTE12 with the finger-stache photos. These included tons of picutres from all over the world and the conference. We were even able to get Sir Ken and Mayim (Blossom) to join the fun.
We were encouraged to host an impromptu session in the Newbie lounge where the first honorary #EduBro showed up (Jeff K) over Skype to share his thoughts on the power of social media and making connections.
We trended worldwide! I'm sorry, but that is a big deal. I know that there are many crazy things that tend to trend (Rhyme!), but this was something special because we had no control over it. It just sort of happened and it's something to remember and share for-ev-er.
The biggest reason that the #EduBros event was a big deal is that it is the best example of educational professionals leveraging Social Media to connect with the world around them. Our only goal was to put together a party for friends. It turned into a trending event around the world where people took pictures of their finger in front of their face in the hopes of attending. I was able to connect to people I never thought possible because a friend and I decided to be a little silly.
Social Media is a tool that can be used in so many different ways that it is just wrong for any educator to say there is not value in using it. Like all tools, educators need to search for the value and utilize it. While this specific event does not make me a better teacher, it has connected me with more educators which can make me a better educator. That is the big take away from this whole event. It's what I hope everyone who reads this walks away with as well.
I need to get going to send Sir Ken his money and try and fit my gigantic head out the front door. :-)